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In Anton Chekhov’s classic short story The Black Monk, a brilliant scholar is haunted by hallucinations of a black monk and unravels in his obsessive quest for genius. This mystical story resonated with Dmitri Shostakovich, and he always dreamed of adapting it for an opera. But decades of suffering under an oppressive political regime wreaked havoc on the composer’s life, and he left the work unfinished. In a very special new project, the Emerson String Quartet is reimagining Shostakovich’s struggle to retell Chekhov’s story through a staged performance of his 14th String Quartet, accompanied by a cast of seven actors. This bold intersection of chamber music and theater speaks to the continuing adventurousness of the Emerson, who celebrate their 40th anniversary this season and have treated us to more inspired performances in Richardson Auditorium than we can count. Princeton University Concerts is proud to have been a part
of commissioning this work, as part of our increasing mission to celebrate and nurture interdisciplinary, non-traditional projects. Dive deeply with us into the stories of Chekhov, Shostakovich, love, art, and madness.
This piece is co-commissioned by Princeton University Concerts, the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, Tanglewood Music Festival and SUNY Stony Brook.
Created by James Glossman and Philip Setzer
Written and Directed by James Glossman
The Emerson String Quartet
Len Cariou, Dmitri Shostakovich
Jay O. Sander, Josef Stalin
Ali Breneman, Younger Woman
Evelyn McGee-Colbert, Middle Woman
Paul Murphy, Older Man
LInda Setzer, Older Woman
Carolyn Kelson, Stage Manager
Bettina Bierly, Costume Designer
Christopher and Justin Swader, Scenic Designers
Julie Duro, Lighting Designer
Jeff Knapp, Multimedia Designer
- Phil Setzer, First Violinist of the Emerson String Quartet
“We are presenting a theatrical realization of Shostakovich’s vision of The Black Monk as an opera. The music will be woven into the fabric of the drama, much as Shostakovich’s personal story is interwoven with the Chekhov story in James Glossman’s script.”
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